My latest ramblings.
Enjoy! I definitely got important things to say
My latest ramblings.
Enjoy! I definitely got important things to say
The team at CHWTraining might know all about developing and keeping healthy habits, but that doesn’t mean we always do it. Even for people in the health education business like us have habits we’d like to change: stopping smoking, drinking less alcohol, drinking more water, eating less meat, eating fewer sugary foods.
This January, our parent company Talance wanted to encourage this kind of change internally instead of just for our clients and course participants. Here’s what happened.
First, we researched several workplace wellness challenges to find a format we liked. This article on Health.gov, 7 Simple, Fun Wellness Challenges to Start At Work, had some ideas we liked.
Importantly, we wanted people to control how they participated. We teach many people about behavior change with techniques like Motivational Interviewing, and we all know that no one will change anything unless they’re inwardly motivated to do so. We wanted to tap into intrinsic motivation as well as extrinsic motivation. NBC’s Better explains it well in this article 3 types of motivation that can inspire you to do anything.
Armed with some ideas, we decided to create a challenge that affirmed any positive change that anyone wanted to make. However, because cutting back on smoking is the single best thing anyone can do for their health, we wanted to especially encourage any smokers to cut back or stop. The 31-Days-Free Challenge was born.
The 31-Days-Free Challenge was open to anyone who wanted to participate in one of two ways:
From the start, everyone was very interested in curious about the challenge. But as time went by, fewer people decided to participate. We would have loved everyone to join, but creating new habits is tough. It has to happen on an individual basis—not just because there’s a challenge there or because it’s January 1. So we hope to catch more next time.
We were left with a core of four who signed up and stuck with it for the whole month. Here’s what our challenges looked like:
There were no losers in this challenge–only winners. So we designed a system where every week participants would self-report how they did based on the achievement points (see the full list below), which were added to a scoreboard. During the week, we opened our internal chat channel (#31-days-free) to advice, reports, tips and encouragement.
This is what a typical week looked like on the scoreboard:
The result? It worked! Everyone who participated made improvement. Most people kept to their goals for the whole month, or at least got close. We all felt better physically and also had fun as a team in a different way that wasn’t related to a project.
As Anastasia said, “For me, it was important that we did it as a team, and that each week I had to say how I was [doing] and state specific achievement points.”
As planned, our chat channel was busy with reports, encouragement and recipes. It was empowering to see how everyone was working toward their goals and how they were navigating barriers. We were all in the spirit of helping each other succeed.
And as expected, there were some unforeseen holdups. For example, my challenge, which required me to cut out my dinnertime glass of wine most nights, didn’t take into account a mid-week birthday celebration that included champagne. So next time, I know to build in some flexibility.
This is a good lesson for anyone who doesn’t reach their goal, whether it’s someone with type 2 diabetes trying to cut down on sugary foods or someone who’s looking to control substance use. Failure can be valuable. It teaches you what your limits are and reveals obstacles that you can navigate next time.
Smokers know this too. Quitting is hard. Slip-ups are inevitable and can be discouraging. According to one study, “it may take 30 or more quit attempts before being successful.” But each slip-up is a learning experience. Note it, what caused it, and keep moving.
There were also some problems with the format. It felt too much like a competition to some. Anastasia said, “Competition didn’t work for me. I wanted to help and learn from the others so I couldn’t see it as a competition.”
There were also some logistical hiccoughs. About halfway through the month, we noticed that some people were making excellent progress but not earning any achievement points. We added a “fill-in-the-blank” point to use whenever you’re doing well but aren’t fitting the list of points.
Next time, we’ll probably forget any points and instead focus on supporting healthy habits only. Importantly, there will be a next time, and many of us are still sticking with our new healthy habits even past January. Hello, flexibility challenge!
Here were the achievement points we awarded, which you can copy for motivating your group.
This year, more community‐based organizations, hospitals and health systems than ever hired new community health workers (CHWs). CHWs are undeniably a benefit to the health workforce, but many employers are struggling to adequate train their new CHWs, lay health worker, community health advocate, and promotores.
Enhancing this workforce’s core competencies is fast and accessible with the dozens of new online training modules from CHWTraining.
Each month we add to our growing course library dedicated to population health. This quarter we added 10 new or updated courses covering everything from basic core skills to health literacy to a host of self-guided titles in Spanish. Many more modules are headed for release in early 2019.
The new courses now available on CHWTraining are:
The Advocacy Skills course, available in both English and Spanish, cover essentials of public advocacy, such as pushing for policy development and policy change. It also covers communication skills, which learners can use to speak up for individuals and communities, be a health advocate for their clients and encourage people to be their own advocate.
Participants in this course learn how to use language confidently and in ways that motivate their clients and patients to change. With an emphasis on communicating following Plain Language guidelines, it shows learners basic skills such as using empathy, active listening, and creating clear health education materials so they can improve the community where they work.
The new Motivational Interviewing course (both in Spanish and English) provides a solid introduction to interviewing techniques for further exploration. This course offers plenty of practice and reflection on techniques such as OARS, as well as modeling through video, audio and case studies.
Our popular Improving Asthma Outcomes course has now been updated for Spanish-speaking audiences. It covers how asthma works and what to do in case of an asthma emergency. It focuses on conducting home visits and how to guide patients and their families through making easy changes that will help them manage asthma better.
Heart disease and stroke are the most common causes of death in the US, and many of the fatalities are among Latinos. This course on hypertension has been linguistically and culturally translated for reaching all populations, with an emphasis on Latino health.
More people have behavioral health problems than are being treated for them. This course addresses how to support people with mental health and substance use issues. This course has been completely revamped to include the most common behavioral health issues.
Most people can overcome problems caused by depression and anxiety with the proper support. This course introduces learners to fundamentals of what depression and anxiety are so they can help those who suffer cope.
The Substance Use module provides critical training to meet the nation’s need for substance misuse, including opioids, tobacco, alcohol and other substances. Learners discover strategies for helping clients avoid and deal with addiction.
This course introduces your team-members to the basics of tobacco use as well as counseling techniques that front-line health workers can use to support individuals in different stages of cessation. Updated and translated into Spanish.
This was the first ever C.O.R.E. Training for CHWs held last March 2017 hosted by the Iowa Chronic Care Consortium (ICCC) and made possible in part by a grant from the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation.
C.O.R.E. stands for “Coaching, Outreach, Relationship, Engagement”. This year’s training was “intended to gather current frontline health workers for learning, information sharing, and networking.”
More information can be found in the summary document attached below. You’ll also find a copy of their training agenda used last March.
Here is a link to find out what each state has in place for every Community Health Worker. You’ll find helpful information about CHW financing, education, certification, State CHW Legislation, and Organizations & Workgroup. You will also find every state’s information about CHW specific and defined roles.
We hope you’ll find this useful.
Some people might picture community health workers as busy little worker bees buzzing around with surveys, checklists, and clipboards. There’s an element of truth to that image: They’re indeed active as they educate clients and patients about health care issues and connect them with appropriate services and resources.
But CHWs aren’t just names on some roster – they have individual, unique backgrounds and experience that qualify them to perform this increasingly important role in the nation’s health care system.
Let’s meet one of them. Tasha Whitaker has followed an unusual path, from reading Dr. Seuss books to pre-kindergartners to seeing that Medicare patients receive the right pre-diabetes screenings, among other tasks. Whitaker is a Community Health Worker II at Baylor Scott & White Health, in Dallas, Texas, and a strong proponent of health education.
Q. What exactly are your duties?
A. We work as a multidisciplinary team – a physician, medical assistant, CHW, pharmacist, and licensed clinical social worker. We are assigned a load of patients over 50. We assess their charts and provide health education and resources to the patient that are needed. These referrals come through the providers and other staff, and we follow up with the patient to make sure that their wellness visits, A1C test [for diabetes], medication list, depression screening and other metrics are all completed. If not, we make sure to get those patients in for an appointment.
Q. How did you arrive at your current position?
A. I went to school to become an RN. It wasn’t until I got to my health-ed classes that I figured that I loved the education part. So I graduated with degree in health education studies. The next best thing to me is teaching. A bunch of people in my family are in teaching. I went through certification programs, got an education, did some pre-K, then started in another job, working for a podiatrist. I got laid off and went back to substitute teaching. Then I got a job here. My journey wasn’t really “on purpose”; it just happened. My title when I was hired was community health educator. Once I started working, my employer gave me the opportunity to get certified as a community health worker. After working in one position for 4 ½ years, I was promoted and moved into a new role as a Community Health Worker II. Eventually, I want to go back and get my RN license and continue with health education and chronic-disease management.
Q. What makes you feel passionate about the work you do?
A. I love educating people about health and chronic diseases. I enjoy being able to break down complicated and complex information to people who may be struggling with turning their health around. It’s rewarding to see patients change their behavior and see many of them push through barriers to reach their goal.
Q. What’s unique about the needs of the people you serve?
A. Because they are seniors, some have barriers involving sight, reading, and instruction comprehension.
Q. Describe a time when the work you did truly made a difference for someone.
A. There was a patient I worked with in a pre-diabetes management class, and she was a bus driver. She was in the program to try and reduce her risk for getting diabetes. It was difficult because the goal was to lose 7 percent of her body weight through healthy eating and exercise. She came very close. She eventually lost weight and changed the snacks and drinks she would consume as she drove the bus. That, in turn, allowed others to see her progress and get them to be interested in the program. It was a really good feeling to know that our time in class was making a difference.
Talance, Inc., provides curriculum development and technology tools to organizations that want to create workers who transform health in America’s communities.